Examining attitudes toward and ability to interact with an online personal health record: A case study in Saudi Arabia

Bandar Faisal Al-Mifgai, Joseph Sharit, Arzu Onar-Thomas, Shihab Asfour


Objective: This study examined the ability for adults from a developing country to use a personal health record (PHR) to perform health-management tasks. The effects of gender differences as well as differences in attitudes about using the internet to manage health prior to and after exposure to the PHR were also investigated.

Methods: A simulation of a PHR based on a well-established U.S. online patient portal was designed and tailored for this particular study population. Two hundred and three adults with a mean age of 40.9 years were recruited from various areas in Saudi Arabia and asked to perform seven common health-management tasks of varying degrees of difficulty. Their electronic health literacy and health numeracy, as well as their attitudes about using online health systems for managing their health prior to and following their interaction with the PHR, were assessed using questionnaires.

Results: After controlling for education, perceived health status, and comfort using the internet, electronic health literacy and health numeracy were still found to be significant predictors of participants’ task performance, but only for the more challenging health-management tasks. No important differences based on gender were found. Exposure to the PHR significantly increased the acceptability of using the internet for managing their health.

Conclusions: The change in attitudes following interaction with the PHR suggests that many adults in this society could benefit from these electronic health systems, including females who, due to cultural considerations, may desire greater control in managing their health. However, the importance of electronic health literacy and health numeracy suggests the need for designs that minimize the impact of these factors for successful performance of health-management tasks.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/ijh.v6n1p1


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International Journal of Healthcare  ISSN 2377-7338(Print)  ISSN 2377-7346(Online)

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